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  1. #1
    Senior Member CantGetAWii's Avatar
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    Overlooking An Important Gaming Audience

    In the current generation a lot of discussion has taken place about "hardcore" and "casual" players and their impact on the industry. It's a topic that creates hard feelings and perpetuates elitism among the hardcore. Much of the animosity stems from the fact that the hardcore demograph has less impact on sales with each passing day. This has created a retail situation where the Nintendo Wii soundly trumps the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 despite the latter two platforms having delivered better and more consistent content to enthusiasts. This clear discrepancy between what many believe should happen and what is actually taking place at store counters worldwide has caused many hardcore players to become concerned about the future prospects of their past time.

    This anxiety generally manifests itself in demonizing the Wii's new audience, but gamers are overlooking a third demograph that has played kingmaker for the last decade. This group, which is even larger than the current reaches of Nintendo's blue ocean, remains unaccounted for this generation but the silent majority can't remain quiet much longer. The hardware manufacturer that realizes this first will reap the benefits.

    When outlining who comprises this third group it is important to clear up some popular misconceptions about the "casual" audience. The Nintendo Wii's mission statement is to sell gaming to people that have largely ignored our industry up to this point in time. These people, let's call them "non-gamers" since it's the most logical title, have been pushing the Wii to new sales records. Prior to the Wii the casual gamer and non-gamer were not seen as the same group, and in fact they are not the same group today. Non-gamers are by definition people that did not buy consoles with any regularity until the Nintendo DS or Wii. The casual gamer has been a major part of our industry since the original PlayStation. They spearheaded the hobby's leap into mainstream acceptance and away from the nerd tag game players had been saddled with for decades. The casual gamer allows Madden, GTA, and Halo to sell millions of copies in a matter of days. They buy only a few games a year and these titles are generally popular sequels. They play games with some regularity but it is not an all-consuming part of their lives. They are the group that made the PS1 and PS2 successively the best-selling home consoles in history. The last fact should jump out immediately: these people are more of a force then either the hardcore or non-gamer and possibly bigger then both combined. With the casual label being thrown at Wii buyers, it's easy to get the two groups confused but they are very different, and this is a critical point.

    This group has been forgotten amidst the storm of hardcore vs. casual debates, yet they are the ones who will most likely decide the victor in this generation of home consoles. So why does no one question their absence? Simple: it's not a topic that will incite hatred or loathing and boost readership. In the current sensationalist climate the gaming media operates in that means despite their importance they will remain a non-story. The industry has become split into two distinct factions. First, there are those who wish things were more exclusionary and centered around the enthusiast. Second, there are those who seek to bring gaming to the masses, even if it means simplifying the medium to an extent. The casual audience craves a middle ground between these two mindsets and none of the current choices offer this. In the previous two generations, the PlayStation took this middle ground, but currently none of the three machines are equipped to be their next console of choice.

    Sony and Microsoft's dogged pursuit of the technophile and Nintendo's quest to convert non-gamers have caused this group to abstain from the current generation for over a year and counting. The PlayStation 2 continues to perform exceptionally well, even outselling HD consoles on occasion, and it's no coincidence. So how can this group be brought back into the fold? The first step is for all three hardware providers (although it would only take one) to broaden their horizons. The manufacturer in the best position to do this is probably Sony, since they have fallen under their banner twice previously. Many of them have probably never owned a competitor's machine, and the PS3's 2008 lineup includes familiar juggernauts like Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid and Grand Theft Auto along with a few original IPs that have the potential to grab the casual player. Additionally, PlayStation Home cannot be underestimated. If it succeeds in becoming the equivalent of an interactive MySpace, that would almost certainly put the casual crowd squarely in Sony's camp yet again. The major deterrent is price. If the PS3 does not see a downward price revision by holiday 2008, something around $100 at minimum, no amount of software will win the day.

    Nintendo is the next most logical pairing, but it will take more work. Wii Sports, Wii Fit, and Wii Play do wonders for the non-gamer and the company's collection of nostalgia-driven franchises appease the hardcore fan but none of that will lure the casual player. The group ignored both the Nintendo 64 and GameCube because they only appealed to the Nintendo fan base. The Wii really only appeals to the Nintendo fan base and non-gamers because it still lacks a variety of key genres and big names that the casual gamer follows. The good news is that Nintendo may be able to leverage their growing sales lead into developer support and, given time, the Wii's library could begin to resemble the original PlayStation in its software variety. The casual gamer has already shown they care little for technical advantages, so the console's lack of high-end specs will probably not hurt Nintendo a bit. But the ball needs to start rolling soon because the software Nintendo needs to entice the casual audience will take time to create.

    Microsoft and the Xbox 360 are the least likely haven for the casual audience. The 360's entire brand is designed to intimidate these people. Things like Achievements, Gamerscores, and passionate online communities are more negative than anything else in this regard. At best they are overlooked entirely, and at worst they appear to be obtrusive barriers to new players. The main reason Microsoft has little chance of gaining the casual audience is not because they couldn't change their image in time, they have the resources to do anything they want, but because it's doubtful they'd be willing to gamble losing their stranglehold on the hardcore gamer for a such a long shot. The people that buy 360's and push that incredible attach rate up will simply not stand having to take a backseat to anyone. Hardcore gamers are prima donnas in the sense that they feel like they need to be the focus at all times. Nintendo has almost completely severed its ties with this group by daring to go away from them even slightly. Imagine the backlash that would occur after a 360 press event that wasn't filled with hardware-pushing shooters and other western-centric software! The 360's course is set and it seems Microsoft is content to hope that their impressive software sales keep publishers on their side. The push for the casual audience, if it ever comes at all, is something for the 360's successor to grapple with.

    The casual audience cannot be accurately measured, but they certainly outnumber the hardcore crowd and at least equal the number of non-gamers Nintendo has reeled in. This makes them the largest sustainable demograph of all. The hardcore are so named because they will always be around. The non-gamers are new and their interest in the long-term is questionable at best. The casual gamer is the industry's biggest and most reliable meal ticket and they aren't even being given lip service. People change, they move on to new things if old interests grow stale. That is the risk all three manufacturers are taking with the casual gamer by not making a serious play for them. The media leans heavily in favor of the hardcore because those are their readers but the importance of the hardcore is nothing in comparison to the casual gamer. The current generation of gaming is fantastic, but without support from the genuine casual audience, we'll look back and realize we were foolish to think we could keep this business model alive all by ourselves.

    The casual gamer does not need our industry; the industry needs them. The first two PlayStations succeeded in bringing them into the fold within two years. The 360 has already failed to do that and the Wii or PS3's chances are up in the air. The window is closing. If the hardware companies don't realize that soon they may alienate an audience the industry cannot afford to lose. With all the attention given to the hardcore vs. non-gamer debate, the casual audience cannot be swept under the rug even if they aren't a particularly exciting topic. The company that wakes up to this first and caters to them will gain the silent majority that decides the winner of each generation. If no one steps up to the plate, the impact may not be felt immediately, but in the long term it would be devastating. The casual audience will not be satisfied with the PS2 forever. Eventually, they will need to be given something new to play. Don't expect them to demand it, though. They won't cry out if no one heeds the call. They'll just leave.
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  2. #2
    Let There Be Rock vashivihan's Avatar
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  3. #3
    Guru of everything Ninty wezeles's Avatar
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    What an excelent aticle...
    I agree 100%, although I wouldn't count out 360 all together.

    I think as of now this group of "real casual" gamers has been pretty split between the 360/Wii maybe even some of the lingering PS2 sales even.
    PS3 sadly is getting no real love besides its dedicated fans because of its price! They must must must fix the price soon or just throw in the towel for this round.

    Wii could snatch up a good majority but they will need the "pop" titles to start moving to the console, like GTA,FF ect. ect. the really hyped up games that get nothing but attention. Problem is Wii needs the 3rd party support to do a good chunk of this. Although some of the killer Nintendo titles like SSBB,MK will snatch up some they will not get them all. specially when the Wii continues to get last years leftovers and ported PS2 3rd party games.

    PS3 will get some of them with a price drop, I doubt they care much about Home, or any other of the "extras" on any console. This crowd just wants the popular games thats all. This is where Sony giving up so many exclusive 3rd party games on the PS3 will hurt them badly. Although they spent most there money bringing the technology to the consumer, the consumer will not bring the money to the technology if its not well supported, Gaming buisness 101, with plenty of high priced high end consoles having failed with this same concept! See 3DO,NEOGEO,Jaguar ect. ect.

    360 could expand its casual market by snatching up some of these "pop" titles and making them exclusives like Sony use to do. Although they seem to be content with sharring them with PS3 recently because its in the minority console anyways they know they will win in sales in the end.

    Still most of these games that get the "casual" gamers are the hit 3rd party titles, that is why MS/Sony pay to make exlcusives alot of the time.
    Without the exclusivity it will just be evenly split between all 3 systems probably and really the only determining factor will be the different 1st party choices for some casual gamers.
    Last edited by wezeles; 03-01-2008 at 10:03 AM.


  4. #4
    WiiChat Member Skorp's Avatar
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    It was an interesting read but I don't know if I'd say it was an excellent article. I don't think it was clear at all what needed to be done to lure this third crowd to a console. Nor was it even clear on what defines this third crowd.

    Yes there are a lot of casual gamers who owned PS2s but I don't see how these are different from people who have bought a wii casually through interest in wii sports.

    Perhaps you can explain this better wezeles. The article to me just said this group needs to be tapped. I don't really see how there is a clearcut way a console would target this demographic. I do see how the PS3 would drive them away with the price and non-exclusivity of the titles. I also see how 360s lineup of solid hardcore games may not interest them. Is the only thing that doesn't draw them to the wii the fact that there are fewer killer apps they are familiar with? Because if that is the case nintendo will never get the franchises that were so popular on PS2.

  5. #5
    Guru of everything Ninty wezeles's Avatar
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    Like I said its Only the games they look for. What console its on doesn't matter to them they could probably care less. But they also arn't going to spend 400-500 dollars on a console to play the "pop" titles. Specially considering they are not payed to be exclusive to Sony anymore.

    They are still casual gamers, they do it more or less for occasional fun not as a big hobbie in there life like hardcore. I've got a few friends that are this way they went and bought PS2 and only picked up like 3 or 4 games like the GTA,GH,ATV Racing games, and thats it! Same with a couple more who only bought Xbox/360 with some of the really big titles like Halo,COD,RockBand,GH.

    They are willing to dump some cash on these big title games but they are not gonna stock up on games. They might buy 4-5 games total for the life of the console and rarely play it except when they are truely board or to entertaine friends. This is why they don't get noticed but why they dramtically improve sales numbers of the hit games, and can be the deciding factor in the Console War.

    If 3rd party "pop" stays pretty well multi platform or even 360/PS3, then its not realy going to be a factor we notice in sales.

  6. #6
    wii are cool!!!!! jimbo's Avatar
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    the wii is winning because the casuals arnt graphic whores, and they like good game play, which many hardcore fans dont seem to get (when it comes to the wii

    my only input, i can see some1 even ruining this lol....
    p.s only read first line in article
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  7. #7
    WiiChat Member WiitnessID's Avatar
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    Great article but one point is so missing. It even says that the casuals are not going to be around for ever then it says that this casual is what the PS3 is counting on to beat nintendo. I agree but what if these casuals have moved on? I mean really I've meet so many PS2 owners who have kids now and got a Wii because they don't want their kids playing GTA or god of war. You see having kids changes your liberal ways some times. Have these casuals left the game? Did the PS3 convert them into hardcore players? Ken thought this had happened yet even he was wrong. Nintendo is the only company creating casual gamers and converting them over to addictive games right now. They done this by way of the mario parties and the DS along with feeding kids pokemon for years and of course the main franchises. Sony is relying on sequels that where actualy designed for hardcore gamers only and as I've seen many times before those sequels are what actually kills the hype of these games. If you really are hardcore you have a Wii and loads of VC games that you did not buy while you where a kid. Hey but lots of people started on a playstation yet lots of people started on a game boy and an nes yet that did not stop them from getting a PS1 did it?

    Seriously I think the buzz of the PS2 has ran it's course and those casuals may have moved on. The price along was enough for them to move on. I remember having this conversation with people before. The casuals want easy games and don't really want to be challenged and just really want a story will they really pay a high premium for this? So far no. The core of gaming is based on challenges that get additively harder as the quality of the game rises by way of sequels or levels. The ratings have raised yet the games have failed to impress. The HD system are similar to buying a kit diablo to build on top of another car. Sure it looks good but still handles like a 20,000 dollar body you built it on. Hey but it looks so good! The Wii is like buying a 20,000 dollar car that doesn't use gas and drives for you while you surf the web. It may not go really fast but traffic jams would be like chilling on your couch with a lap top!

    Another thing is price and the fact that moms and dads every where actually know about the Wii. As a kid it's going to be hard for you to convince mom and dad to get you a PS3 when they know a Wii cost like 250. Then on top of that there is nothing they want to try on the box and it does not have the idea that it's good for your kids because it makes the lazy bastards get up and move attached to it. Wii fit will only expand upon this.

    So far we have
    Non-gamers
    casuals- until they find there fix that leads to a gate way game.
    Fanboy and girls that will support what they think is hardcore yet operate more like fare weather fans

    hardcore gamers:
    The ones who have been gaming for a really long time and will buy what ever it takes to play the games they want to play regardless of stigma or price. Few people operate in that form of gaming. These guys actually but arcade kits and yes I know a few. They are range from PC gamers to retro expensive consoles.

    The budget hardcore which opted to get a HD console rather than a PC upgrade.

    Then you have the old school gamers who's types of games have almost disappeared thanks to 3d. Yet the Wii has totally been a blast for them.

    Now you have the free roaming sand box online player. The xbox 360 player that needs voice chat! GTA out their platform right no point there.

    The 3d engine only player. Which are the remains of the PS brand. Mostly the graphic whore who want a HD system but will not pay for the asking price.

    Franchise players. They end up being fan boys mostly yet will follow a game to other platforms.

    What makes it even harder is the fact that a gamer can not be stereo type into just any one of these categories totally. The more a fan likes you the harder it is to get new ones.

    SONY changed to include us PC or tech junkies and lost their core the casuals.

    Any loyalty that MS had will be gone once a box breaks many many times.

    Nintendo is getting new comers to join the game and bring back relasped gamers while providing the deticated gamers stuff they will not get on other consoles, fun... And no I never have fun on the PC it is there to crush foes! LOL
    Last edited by WiitnessID; 03-01-2008 at 03:28 PM.

  8. #8
    WiiChat Member illmasaki's Avatar
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    there are some good points in the article but i donno if we can all agree what hardcore casual and non-gamers are
    many of these terms might appease gamers but im sure if they are suitable from the stand point of the companys and how they look at gamers
    what i think makes a gamer hardcore is how much he spend on video games not how much he plays

    hardcore gamer is one who spends over $150 a year on vg
    casual gamer is one who spends under $150 a year on vg
    and a non gamer is some1 who rarely buys a video games but would if they found one game they really liked. buying a game every year or two if that.
    a fanboy is some1 who talk about video games a lot wether its with his friends or in a message board

    hardcore gamers are more desirable because they spend a lot of money on games

    casual gamers are are almost as good and have the potential to be a hardcore gamer

    non-gamers is actually a very small audience until recently where nintendo started taking advantage of this market
    non gamers have the potential to be a casual gamers but will have to find and/or create genres for this market in mind.

    fanboys can b hardcore casual or a non gamer. if they can help a company with free marketing so they are looked upon as a good thing.

    does that mean a 8 year old who get his mom to buy a video game a week a hardcore gamer? yep a lot more hardcore then me even though he doesnt even pick up the sticks.

    does that mean the person who buys the new madden game every year isnt hardcore? hes not hardcore just because he plays madden 8 hours a day. if he doesnt buy other games regularly he cant be hardcore.

    some1 who buys 8 puzzle games a year can be more hardcore then some1 who buys halo 3.


    they may not make enough games for a genre but you cant just say a style of game makes some1 casual or hardcore or a non gamer
    so to say they dont make a game for this casual gamers is ridiculous
    maybe the difficulty of a game might be decided on the fact of casual or hardcore
    but that usually also decided on how new the genre is
    fps are more difficult now then they were 5 years ago
    but that doesnt mean that only hardcore gamers can play fps

    a great point was that the competitive nature of the online games may scare off casual gamers but chances are if u have online games you are not a casual gamer anymore.

    or to say online games are for hardcore gamers might not be true if online board games were to become popular
    and who knows maybe people might buy 6 online board games a year and maybe they are hardcore

    my point is this hardcore gamers are people who love and spend a lot of their money on video games

    their are many genres being explored on all systems


    i know nintendo has a lot of non gamer/fan boys who love the new style of gameplay

    a lot of these non gamers might become hardcore

  9. #9
    Yes i am Amazing PwnMastr's Avatar
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  10. #10
    WiiChat Member ElronMac's Avatar
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    Well, after reading this article and thinking for a bit I have come to the conclusion that most people on this board are serious causal gamers and that is a more accurate depiction of the market that needs to be fully tapped. I am serious casual gamer and by that I mean this. I play the games I love to play, however I don't need a fancy new tech stuff or massive online capabilities to enjoy the experience, what I do need is for the games I play to be complete and entertaining. This audience is what needs to be maintained by all 3 manfs.

    In time I think we are going to see Nintendo reach a balance with the non gamer, the casual gamer and the serious casual gamer, personally I don't think they will ever grab the extreme hardcore FPS crowd but then again why would they, FPS is a fairly one dimensional genre, you run, you shoot, you dodge, then do it all over again until you get to the end of the level. Don't get me wrong I love my FPS games as much as the next guy, but when I want to be truly entertained and enjoy a game, I play something with more depth.

    In the end all of this bickering about who will win and who will lose the console wars really doesn't matter, what does matter is that we as gamers our happy with the games we play. The manufacturer that consistently pleases it's audience will win the console war, not the one that sells the most consoles or has the greatest IP's. It will be the manf. that has never let their fans down and right now none of them can say that, nintendo is currently the closest to being able to say that, but they aren't there yet.
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